On Friday, a spy plane with the serial number 168761 is said to have taken off from NATO Base Sigonella in Sicily, Italy. The Р-8А Poseidon, tasked with conducting anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, shipping interdiction and electronic signals intelligence, then circled over the Syrian coast near Tartus, home to the Russian Navy's maintenance and support facility.
A day earlier, the two Р-8А Poseidon planes appeared to have been flying in the area where a group of Russian military vessels, led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, is currently located.
In addition, the large landing ship Caesar Kunikov and a supply vessel are believed to have entered the Mediterranean on the same day. The warships are heading to Tartus.
This week, US surveillance planes have conducted daily missions over the eastern Mediterranean, prompting some to link this activity to Russia's increased naval presence in the region.